Detecting Natural Gas Leaks at Your Property

Gas leaks can have devastating effects if left unfixed. The worst-case scenario is that an undetected leak may ignite or combust. Even small leaks that don’t ignite, however, can be dangerous or deadly.

Low concentrations of gas can cause symptoms, including pneumonia, nausea, vomiting, irregular breathing, memory loss, and sinus pain. A severe gas leak can reduce the amount of available oxygen resulting in dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and headache.

Corroded Gas Pipe

Where Do Gas Leaks Occur?

Gas leaks can occur inside or outside the building. If you suspect a gas leak outside your building, look near gas pipelines. You may hear a hissing sound or notice dirt or dust being blown into the air or on plants near a leak.

Leaks commonly form as pipes age and corrode. Con Edison, which provides natural gas to nearly 900,000 customers in Manhattan, the Bronx, and northern Queens, reported nearly 24,000 gas leaks to federal authorities between 2010 and 2012*. More than 11,000 were because of corroded pipes.

Gas leaks inside buildings commonly occur near gas appliances, such as dryers, water heaters, furnaces, and ranges. Bumping or moving appliances can cause a gas leak to form in the pipes and connectors.

How to Detect a Gas Leak—See. Hear. Smell.

Never use matches or flames to detect a gas leak, and never turn on or off any electrical switches if you suspect a gas leak. Instead, use a gas leak detector or your three senses to detect a leak.

You can use a professional solution to detect a leak, however water and dish soap will work just fine.

1. See. Look for corroded pipes or cracks in the hose and connector around a gas appliance. Nearly 50% of the gas leaks reported to Con Edison between 2010 and 2012 were because of corroded pipes. You may also see dust blowing around the leak point.

Another visual test for a leak is applying equal parts of liquid dish soap and water on to the part you suspect has a leak. If there is a leak, you will see bubbles form where gas is coming out.

2. Hear. You may hear a hissing sound from the point of the leak.

3. Smell. A sulfur smell may be present. While natural gas is odorless, gas companies add chemicals to create a distinctive odor and help people identify leaks. The odor in gas has been added to help aid in the detection of leaks, and most describe the smell as rotten eggs or sulfur.

What to Do If There Is a Leak

Property owners are often responsible for maintaining all pipes running from the gas meter into their building. Utility providers are responsible for maintaining lines up to the meter. Check with your local utility provider to be sure who is responsible for maintaining pipes.*

If you believe the gas leak is your provider’s responsibility, contact them immediately. If the leak is your property’s responsibility, you will need to turn off the gas immediately and repair the leak.

Educating Residents on What to Do

Your residents should use the same gas leak detection strategy you use so they can take action if they believe there is a leak. In the event of a leak, encourage residents to notify property management immediately, using after-hours emergency contact information if necessary.

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Educate Your Residents on Gas Leaks

To help educate residents, download our gas leak information sheet. You can print it for new residents or as a reminder.


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